TNA World Heavyweight Championship:
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Bully Ray
Jeff Hardy makes the fourth pay-per-view defence of his TNA World Heavyweight title against Bully Ray Hogan in a Steel Cage match.
The Road to Lockdown
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this match has been over four months in the making in a roundabout way.
Five weeks after Austin Aries dropped the TNA World Heavyweight Championship to Jeff Hardy in the main event of TNA's biggest pay-per-view of the year, Bound For Glory, the former champion turned his attention to Brooke Hogan, calling her out on the Nov. 22nd edition of Impact and showing secretly videotaped footage of her getting very cosy on a couch with Bully Ray.
For weeks they teased that a relationship was going on between the two, until Ray informed Hulk Hogan on Dec. 13th that Brooke had merely been apologising for the way her father had been acting towards him.
However, that turned out to be a big fat lie! It was only one week later when The Hulkster caught the two of them making out with each other, but drove off without confronting them about it.
When playing dumb about the incident didn't work, Bully Ray finally came clean about his relationship with Brooke to Hulk Hogan on Jan. 3rd. However, Hulk wasn't willing to listen to his apologies and indefinitely suspended him without pay on the spot for the serious crime of breaking the wrestling bro code.
This just led to the whirlwind romance becoming even more feverish. Ray immediately ignored the suspension to save Brooke from an Aces & 8s kidnapping, then proposed to her in the middle of the ring. Of course, the naïve damsel in distress automatically said yes.
Talk about rushing into things, just seven days later the loved up couple were married. Even though they successfully tied the knot, the occasion was a nightmarish affair due to Taz joining Aces & 8s and the heel gang beating down the wedding party as soon as the ceremony was over. At least Hulk Hogan ended up doing the right thing and escorted his daughter down the aisle against his better judgement.
After much lobbying by Bully Ray, Brooke Hogan and Sting, this led to Hulk overturning Ray's suspension on the Jan. 31st episode of Impact, so he could get revenge on Aces & 8s and kick their asses.
Thus, a small dose of justice was finally served when Bully Ray teamed up with Sting to defeat Devon and Doc in a Tables match on Feb. 7th.
In the meantime, Jeff Hardy had managed to successfully retain his TNA World Heavyweight title against all comers, most notably Aries, Robert Roode and Christopher Daniels, making the task for Hulk Hogan to choose the No. 1 contender to face him at Lockdown a tricky one.
His solution was to book Rob Van Dam vs. James Storm, Christopher Daniels vs. Magnus, Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries on Feb. 14th with the most impressive winner getting the shot.
A partially torn quad muscle prevented Bully Ray from being involved in the process, but after giving his wife the old sob story about how he's only ever wanted to do two things in life, marry her and win the TNA heavyweight championship, Brooke immediately ran to dear old Dad to ask him to give her husband a Valentine's Day present on her behalf and grant him the opportunity to fulfil his dreams at Lockdown.
The Hulkster may have remained objective, but when Bully Ray saved Hogan from another potential beating at the hands of Aces & 8s before he could make the big announcement, that allowed a week to pass for him to consider the matter further and he ended up giving the nod to his son-in-law, who acted suitably contrite, humbled and shocked from getting this family favour.
It wasn't until ten days before Lockdown that champion and challenger had their first confrontation, which was a very friendly affair with Bully Ray still acting like he wasn't worthy of the honour, but Jeff put his mind at rest saying that he actually wanted to face him. Later that night, the two teamed up to defeat Christopher Daniels & Kazarian where amazingly there was no dissension between the babyfaces whatsoever.
Bully Ray's benevolent behaviour continued on Impact this Thursday. He saved his Lockdown opponent from Matt Morgan's Carbon Footprint attempt after the disgruntled muscleman had interfered in Jeff Hardy's match with Austin Aries.
Moreover, in the show closing segment Ray told Jeff how proud he was of him for battling back from his personal demons to become the World champ again and with Hulk Hogan's encouragement they finally shook hands. Of course, Aces and 8s had to come down to spoil this special moment, but thankfully Team TNA stopped the stable from beating the two babyface headliners up and ruining the Lockdown main event.
What's at stake?
This is one of those rare times when the promotion's top prize of them all, the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, is almost an afterthought.
Something really fishy seems to be going on and we could very well see the breakup of a marriage, the betrayal of a father-in-law's hard earned trust, the backstabbing of a best friend and a new leader of Aces and 8s all going hand in hand with a fresh World champion on Sunday night.
Will Bully Ray go back to the dark side at Lockdown? Follow our coverage tomorrow to find out, Cagesiders!